The future of manufacturing is automation. Automation is when machines operate with a self-governing system. They perform functions human beings could never do, and sometimes they’re designed to replace human labor altogether. For manufacturing businesses, automation is more efficient and cheaper, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for a strong workforce. More than ever, you’re going to need IT (information technology) professionals to monitor, repair, and manage your automated machines.
You’ve Got Two Choices: Hire or Outsource
Human beings will always have a place in manufacturing. Machines, including robots, can operate with or without human interaction. When manual labor isn’t needed, that’s called automation. Soft automation is going to require humans in some form to press buttons or operate the machine. Hard automation requires little to no human interaction; the machine or robot handles materials, assembly, and other functions on its own.
Although humans are not needed to operate fully (hard) automated systems, they will be needed in some capacity to watch over the machines. IT professionals handle the security of computerized systems, as well as troubleshoot issues when they arise. You can choose to hire IT professionals to work in-house or you can outsource your IT needs to a third party business.
Outsourcing to a third-party IT provider is a lot cheaper than hiring in-house staff. And, in some cases, those companies will service your systems onsite for an additional fee. For example, Firewall Technical, which offers IT services in Ottawa, provides immediate technical support by phone, but can be scheduled to arrive on scene to maintain and improve networks, servers, desktop computers, and mobile devices. As long as your automated systems are designed to function with little human interaction, outsourcing IT is typically you best choice.
Automation and Robotics in Manufacturing
There isn’t an area of automated or robotic manufacturing that won’t need an IT professional. Automated production lines are gaining popularity, and they eliminate the costs of a heavy workforce to work a line; however, they’re not without their flaws. If there is a break in the line (a machine goes down, or something is mismanaged by the robotic arm), someone will need to be there to monitor this and then fix it.
With so many parts operating simultaneously, your IT professional should be adept at both managing the system through computer controls and physically repairing it. You may need two IT professionals, one of which is skilled in mechanics and engineering, to monitor your production lines. Automated production is just one example of why you need IT professionals. Here’s some other areas in which these skilled professionals are needed:
- Numerical controls
- Automated assembly
- Flexible manufacturing systems
- Computer process controls
- Computer-integrated manufacturing
The Benefits of Automation and Trained IT Staff
Overall, the biggest advantage of an automated manufacturing system is that it keeps people safe. Having robots handle dangerous materials means no one gets hurt; furthermore, this method keeps manufacturing costs low, which keeps factories located in the United States. The high cost of labor has pushed many manufacturers to build their factories overseas, but automation is bringing the industry home.
Unfortunately, the biggest disadvantage of automation is worker displacement. It does seem that automation would cost jobs, but actually automation has the ability to create jobs; especially in the IT and engineering sectors. Be competitive with the wages you offer these individuals and make room for them in your business. This is going to improve the economy through job creation and ensure that your very expensive automated equipment doesn’t fail you.